A Graco car seat rests on a table.

The Graco Nautilus is a highly versatile toddler car seat for children aged around four and up. It accommodates children as tall as 57.0 inches and up to 120.0 pounds. We recommend it as one of the best car seats for toddlers because of its proven safety record and broad range of adjustable positions.

Graco is one of the premier car seat brands, offering some of the safest and best-built products on the market today. The Nautilus is a popular car seat that’s been field tested by thousands of parents.

Graco Nautilus Overview And Features

A Graco car seat rests on a table.
Graco Nautilus
$190 Amazon
  • Three seat configurations
  • Durable construction
  • Easy-to-clean, removable padding
  • Easily adjustable headrest
  • Harness strap can be hard to adjust

An adjustable all-in-one car seat for young children. At about $200, the Nautilus’ price tag is average for a convertible car seat. You can find cheaper models, but these will sacrifice longevity and comfort. The 21.8-lb. weight is also about average for a car seat, and even a little lighter than other toddler seats.

Key Features

  • Child weight range: 22.0 to 120.0 lbs.
  • Five-point harness mode height range: 27.0 to 49.0 in.
  • High back booster mode height range: 38.0 to 57.0 in.
  • Backless booster mode height range: 40.0 to 57.0 in.
  • Car seat weight: 21.8 lbs.

The height range is typical for a three-in-one car seat like the Nautilus, and the weight range is slightly broader (most others top out around 100.0 lbs.).

Keep in mind that this is a forward-facing car seat. For especially young children, you’ll need a rear-facing car seat. We recommend several in our review of the best infant car seats.

Graco Nautilus Models

There are several versions of the Graco Nautilus:

The Graco Nautilus 65 and the Graco Nautilus 2.0 lines are fairly similar, with the 2.0 being the updated model with some different stylistic features. The LX models are about $10 more expensive and include an additional harness storage compartment.

The Nautilus SnugLock Grow is about $50 more expensive than other Nautilus models and is larger. The headrest is much bigger, more padded, and can widen as well as raise.

For this review, we tested the Graco Nautilus 65 LX.

Graco Nautilus Testing Process

A Graco car seat is installed in a vehicle.

In order to provide the best recommendations, our team has extensively researched and tested child car seats – including infant car seats, toddler car seats, convertible car seats, and high-backed boosters. We put the Graco Nautilus through this process and can now safely recommend it as one of the best toddler car seats.

To test the Graco Nautilus, our review team installed it into the back seat of a sedan. In addition to inspecting the materials in person, we noted the ease (or difficulty) of installation.

We attached the Nautilus by using the car’s built-in infant seat anchors or the seatbelt. We then adjusted the seat to its multiple configurations. Our review team gives the highest marks to car seats that feature intuitive design elements and durable materials.

Ease Of Installation

To be sold within the United States, a car seat must pass federal safety standards. However, even the best-designed car seat is unsafe if installed improperly. For this reason, the simplicity or difficulty of installing a car seat is an important consideration when selecting the right product.

The design of a car seat’s anchor clasps can make a big difference in ease of installation. We noticed two types of anchor clasps during our testing process: a plain metal anchor and a buckle anchor (both displayed below). The buckle anchor is easier to attach and release. Seats with this type of anchor scored higher for ease of use.

Plain Metal Anchor

Plain Metal Anchor, car seats hooks

Buckle Anchor

Buckle Anchor, car seats hooks


Toddlers develop quickly, so it’s important that a quality car seat be adjustable in order to comfortably accommodate children as they grow. In this case, comfort is a safety consideration. Some toddlers may require a belt-positioning booster seat configuration while others don’t.

Quality Of Materials

The best car seats for toddlers each include strong and secure straps for safety. However, some car seats have more adjustable straps and more robust buckles. Fine construction and durable materials are not only safer, but they last longer. Seats that scored highest in this category feature metal (rather than plastic) buckles and easy-to-use cinching mechanisms.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. A team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

What We Like

Having tested many car seats, we’ve found that Graco generally offers high-quality products. The Nautilus is no exception – featuring premium straps and latches as well as removable, machine-washable padding.

What stands out about the Nautilus specifically is the degree of adjustability it offers. There are several configurations that the Nautilus can achieve: forward-facing harness, highback booster, and backless booster. Many convertible car seats can transition between these configurations, but the Nautilus offers more recline positions to get your seat perfectly accommodated to your child.

In addition to an armrest cupholder, this car seat also has a side storage compartment that can be a useful place to keep snacks and toys.

What We Don’t Like

We didn’t find much to criticize about the Nautilus. However, while there are many positioning options, adjusting between each can be a chore. Some of the adjustment increments didn’t click perfectly into place at first.

We also don’t like that the Nautilus uses metal anchor clasps. At this price point, we’d hope to see easier-to-install, buckle-style anchors.

Graco Nautilus Reviews

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on around 400 ratings

The Nautilus gets praise for being easy to install and clean. There are some reviewers who claim the opposite – however, there are far more reviewers praising installation simplicity. In our experience, this was not a particularly difficult car seat to install, though it does use metal anchor clasps.

Another thing we gleaned from customer reviews is that this car seat is comfortable. Many parents comment that their children are happy to hop into the Nautilus.

One drawback to this seat (that we noticed during our testing) is that the shoulder harness can be difficult to adjust once the seat is installed. The no-rethread harness means that you don’t need to reposition the belts when switching between configurations, but it doesn’t mean tightening and loosening the straps is easy.

Positive Graco Nautilus Reviews

“I bought this same model [eight] years ago and it was fantastic and held up the whole duration that I needed it.”

– Samantha, via Amazon

“We have [two] of these, our kids love them. Very comfy.”

– Via Amazon

Negative Graco Nautilus Reviews

“The shoulder harness is very hard to tighten. I checked that the straps are straight [and] untangled, [and] it secures easy when empty. But as soon as my kid sits in it, it’s extremely hard to tighten.”

Via Amazon

“The car seat [looks] really nice, however it barely reclines and the baby’s head bobs forward when trying to sleep.”

– Ms. Barr, via Amazon

Our Take On The Graco Nautilus: 4.3 Stars

The Graco Nautilus is a good choice for an average-priced child car seat. If you are looking for the cheapest options, there are lower-cost models out there, such as the Evenflo Chase. If you’re interested in a highly adjustable car seat to last your child from roughly age five until they are past booster car seat age, the Nautilus is a good bet.

Overall Rating4.3 out of 5
Ease of Installation4
Quality of Materials4

We gave the Nautilus a 4.3-star rating overall because of its high level of adjustability. If the Nautilus isn’t quite right for you, similar car seats that we also recommend are the Chicco MyFit and Britax Grow With You.

Graco Nautilus: FAQ

Here are a few frequently asked questions about the Graco Nautilus.

*Data accurate at time of publication.